Information for, about, and of interest to the stone trade, including items previously featured in Latest News.

Custom® Building Acquires Aqua Mix

   SEAL BEACH, Calif.Custom Building Products announced the acquisition of Aqua Mix® Inc., a tile- and stone-care and -maintenance product manufacturer headquartered in Corona, Calif., on Oct. 4
   Terms of the agreement between the two privately-held companies were not disclosed.  Custom's management stated that Aqua Mix will continue operating under its current management team.  
   “Aqua Mix has a rich 26-year heritage as a pioneer in the care of tile and stone surfaces,” said Tom Peck, president and CEO of Seal Beach-based Custom. “Aqua Mix has made customer satisfaction and loyalty a priority, earning it through a combination of quality products and long-term relationships with its customers.  We are proud to welcome Aqua Mix to the Custom family.”
   As a comprehensive provider of tile and stone installation systems, the acquisition is part of Custom's business strategy of providing high-quality materials for all aspects of the tile- and stone installation market.
   In a statement to employees, Aqua Mix founders Manuel and Jill Magallanes said, "It has been such a wonderful experience to have started Aqua Mix 26 years ago with the vision to provide safe sealers for tile and stone, and then to have achieved the success that we have.  
   “We owe that success to our employees and customers. The decision to sell our company was made easier by the realization of Aqua Mix's unlimited growth opportunities when aligned with Custom Building Products."

Dress Your Slab, Now Lie On It

   Stone can be tres chic and be a key part of feng shui, but it can also be a sleep aid – and not by conking yourself in the head, either.
   At least that’s the opinion of some steady sleepers in northern New Jersey, according to reporter Eric Hsu of the The Record in Bergen County, N.J. He’s noted the appearance of stone beds.
   That’s right. Stone beds. And customers think the sleepytime slabs are great.
   The beds caught on in Korea about a decade ago, and are now appearing in areas of the United States with large Korean populations. Hsu reports that the bench-like beds have a 4” sleeping platform, topped by quartz, mica, topaz or jade. The beds also include heating coils for a low, radiant heat.
   It’s not all rock-hard in the stone-bed world, either. A variation includes a vinyl surface covering a layer of hardened mud.
   Hsu reports that prices can be from $1,500-$5,000; the beds aren’t especially a hard sell, either, as non-Koreans are now taking an active interest. The largest stone-bed manufacturer in Korea, JangSoo Industry Co., now has a U.S. office in Atlanta.

$15M Investment for Stone Distributor

   NEW YORKStone Source, a Manhattan-based stone distributor, will be fueling future growth with approximately $15 million in new funding.
   The company received $8.2 million in late August from the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF) through Founders Equity, a private equity firm. That investment leveraged additional capital from outside managers for a total investment of about $15 million in the company
   Stone Source President/CEO Jeff Green, and Vice President/COO Mark Shedrofsky, the company’s founders, retain their positions and will continue holding significant equity interests in the company.
   The $8.2 million from the state pension monies came from capital committed to both Founders Equity and the Hudson River Co-Investment Fund in which the CRF is the majority investor; Manhattan-based Fieldston Investors provided additional equity. The investment came as part of an New York private equity plan that’s made $765 million available to in-state companies since 1999.
   Stone Source plans to use the new capital for enlarging its inventory and warehouse space in New York and expanding its California operations, according to Crain’s New York Business.
    “Since Stone Source was founded more than 18 years ago, the company’s growth has been driven by our ability to provide architects, designers and end users with an edited collection of sophisticated, top-quality natural stone and other decorative surfaces, along with the highest levels of professionalism and responsive service,” Green said. “Our partnership with Founders Equity, the CRF, the Hudson River Fund and Fieldston will give Stone Source access to the capital needed to realize our full global growth potential, both organically and through acquisitions.”
   “We at Stone Source pride ourselves on constantly searching for exciting new materials from the world’s best sources to satisfy the demands of our customers and providing reliable expert consultation,” Shedrofsky added. “We believe our partnership with Founders Equity aligns our company with a financial expert who believes in the strength and growth potential of our company’s product lines and views Stone Source as an excellent platform to build on.”
   “Stone Source is a well-run company that enjoys an outstanding reputation in the marketplace for its collection of quality products,” said John Teeger, a partner at Founders Equity. “The management team has done an excellent job of growing the business by identifying successful new product lines and helping provide solutions to its customers. We look forward to using our creative and entrepreneurial approach to helping the company leverage its existing product lines and expand through opening new branch locations throughout the United States.”
   Stone Source distributes natural stone, quartz surfaces and decorative tiles, among other products. Besides its Manhattan headquarters, the company operates branches and showrooms in Boston, Chicago and Washington, plus sales offices in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Namibian Stone Goes Direct U.S.

   WINDHOEK, NamibiaBridgewater Marble and Granite Works of Bound Brook, N.J., signed an agreement in late August with Namibia Stone Processing (NSP) to directly import Namibian stone to the United States.
   According to a report in The Namibian, the deal could increase revenues for Omaruru, Namibia-based NSP by $5.5 million, and also give it an international marketing presence for finished products. Currently, most of Namibia’s marble and granite is exported in blocks to South African and European finishers and distributors.
   Bob Foster, Bridgewater’s managing partner, stated at a Windhoek press conference that he welcomed working directly with NSP for finished products, such as marble tiles.
   “I came to see (the NSP) plant, and I was very favorably impressed,” Foster said, adding that problems experienced so far by NSP were part of “normal teething problems.”
   Foster said that Namibia’s colorful stone products would sell well in his East Coast market. Yellow-golden colors, such as those found in Namibia, are popular.
   BMG imports and distributes stone; it also fabricates and installs marble and granite for residential and commercial locations, Foster said.
   The New Era in Windhoek reported that Namibian President Hifikpeunye Pohamba officially opened the NSP plant last July 20, and the company has been seeking new marketing partners for exporting products.
   The New Era also noted that NSP would finish and export granite slabs to the United States on a trial basis.

Wall Wins Piedra Award

   MADRID – The rehabilitation of the Wall of San Miguel Alto in Granada, Spain, is the winner of the PIEDRA 2006 Architecture Award.
   The project, carried out by Andelusian architect Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas, was noted by IFEMA, the producers of the PIEDRA stone trade event in Madrid, and the Spanish Natural Stone Federation (FDP).
   The award is given to promote the use of Spanish natural stone, and build a greater awareness of its richness, quality and decorative qualities.
   Torrecilla’s work, one of the 33 projects entered in the competition, involves the rebuilding of the 14th-century wall built by the Nasrid dynasty, the last Muslim rulers on the Iberian peninsula. The wall is built in the nazari style, which is also seen in other buildings in Granada, including the structures of the Alhambra.